Two female tigers, Ike and Walter are the last two cats to be rescued from the Riverglen Farm in Mountainburg.
“When we first walked onto this property and saw the situation of Ms. Betty and the animals and the care we knew we couldn’t stop until something was done,” said Tanya Smith, President and Founder of Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Eureka Springs.
The mission was to rescue 34 lions, tigers, and cougars from the Riverglen Tiger Sanctuary is one the most exotic animal rescue efforts in the country.
“It’s just phenomenal that our team was able to pull this off in 128 days,” added Smith.
The owner of the Riverglen Tiger Sanctuary has been caring for the cats since the 1980’s.
Once Betty Young’s health started to decline she reached out for help.
“Betty actually gave up her animals and she knew that it was time that she at 72 years and she’s had a long hard run,” said Smith.
Getting the cats relocated to Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Eureka Springs wasn’t an easy task.
Remaining calm and quiet, workers tranquilize the tigers.
“You know you have one shot and you have to take it and hope it all gets in there so it’s year of practice about three of you,” said Turpentine Creek Curator, Emily McCormack. “I knew she was going to turn around and charge and more importantly I wanted to get our piece and get the shot in there and get the pc equipment out of there.”
Ike weighing in at around 500 pounds and Walter weighing 550, it took 6 people to carry them from their cage to the trailer.
“But we have taken some cats out this facility that were close to 800 pounds, so huge,” said Smith.
A quick health check is performed on the tigers before they begin their journey to their new home.
“We've built every one of these animals a new safe home and the doors are closed and we get to go down the road with a little bit of history I guess," said Smith.
The Eureka Springs sanctuary had to build more cages to house all the cats in this rescue effort.
For more information on the cats and to see the cats visit http://www.turpentinecreek.org/